Just a week after dominating the Collins Cup, Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and Ironman world champion, turned his sights to a considerably shorter-distance race at his hometown in Bergen, Norway, coming oh-so-close to thrilling the crowd with a win, only to have France’s Dorian Coninx take a thrilling sprint.
Over 20,000 spectators lined the course to watch two of their local heroes – Blummenfelt and his training partner Gustav Iden – at the first running of the World Triathlon Cup Bergen. Italy’s Nicolo Strada led the men out of the 15.9-degree water, with Coninx, American Seth Rider and recently crowned aquathlon world champ Mark Devay on his heels. Bummenfelt lost 20 seconds to the leaders after the 750-m swim, with Iden another 20 seconds down as he jumped on his bike.
Blummenfelt flew through transition, though, and was able to join a lead group of 12 that also included his countrymen Casper Stornes and Bergsvik Thorn. The lead group hit T2 with a lead of almost a minute, seemingly ensuring that the podium would be determined from this group. Coninx and countryman Tom Richard quickly went to the front on the run, with Blummenfelt marking their move. Behind them were two more Norwegians – Stornes and Thorn. Blummenfelt attacked on one of the climbs in the city centre, but Coninx was able to stay with him and would pull away on the blue carpet to take the win. Thorn managed to run his way to the final spot on the podium.
“It was a really hard race that I don’t even know how I found the legs to sprint to the finish and win,” said Coninx. “The atmosphere was just astonishing, I can only thank Bergen and everyone who came to cheer today, it was incredible.”
“I know that I have been doing mostly long distance races this year, but I have been preparing for Bergen all year long,” Blummenfelt said. “I am just extremely happy to be able to do it at home in front of so many people. It was incredible.”
Canadians in the field included Martin Sobey, who took 35th in 58:18 and Charles Paquet, 38th in 58:39.
|Results: Elite Men|
|3.||Vetle Bergsvik Thorn||NOR||00:55:42|
For full results click here.
Kretz takes eighth
In the women’s race Sweden’s Tilda Mansson, the reigning world junior champ, took her first World Cup win in 1:02:48, outsprinting Belgium’s Jolien Vermeylen (1:02:49) and Great Britain’s Kate Waugh (1:02:54). Kretz would finish eighth in just her second race back after last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“It’s been a long road back to racing at this level,” said Kretz, who returned to racing at the Commonwealth Games last month after recovering from injury. “Commonwealth Games was definitely a shock to the system, but I was able to get a good three weeks of training after that to get ready for these next races. I’m happy with the progress. I feel like I executed a solid race. I still have a lot of room for improvement, but after the last year, I’m learning to enjoy even more the fact that I’m healthy and back racing at the front.”
Kretz was 27th out of the cold water in Bergen.
“The swim was a bit hectic in the cold water,” she said. “I didn’t have much feel for the water, but I got into the mix.”
Kretz was able to work her way back to the lead group, but that effort cost her on the run.
“I struggled a bit to position myself well in the group and maybe burnt a few matches on the bike doing that,” said Kretz. “On the run I went all-in from the start and ran with the front group for about a lap. I had a few low points on the run towards the end of the first lap where I couldn’t find my rhythm on the cobbles, but I fought on the second lap and finished strong. Today was so much better than a few weeks ago at Commonwealth Games. I’m looking forward to building on that momentum and keep improving for the next races coming up.”
You can find full results from the women’s race here.